NHL Pride Nights are an opportunity for hockey teams to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. The idea is to promote inclusivity and diversity in the sport and beyond. Many NHL teams have been holding Pride nights for years, and they have become an important tradition for the league.
However, not all players and teams have been supportive of the initiative. This season, several players and teams have refused to wear Pride Night jerseys for warmups. In recent seasons, they have even canceled the event altogether, although that has yet to happen so far in 2023.
These are the NHL players and teams who refused to wear Pride Night Jerseys this season.
The Philadelphia Flyers defenseman was the first NHL player to speak out and not wear the Pride Night warmup jerseys, citing his Russian Orthodox beliefs. Despite Provorov’s abstention, the Flyers still wore the Pride Night jerseys for warmups on the night.
San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer opted out of wearing a Pride Night jersey for warmups on March 18th. Despite the goaltender’s statement, the Sharks continued on with the festivities as planned.
Eric and Marc Staal
Both Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers refused to participate in team warmups and wear Pride Night warmup jerseys on March 23rd, citing Christian beliefs. Eric Staal doubled down in a postgame interview, saying that he had never worn a Pride Night jersey before, despite there being photographic evidence of both brothers wearing them in years past.
Buffalo Sabres player Ilya Lyubushkin announced on March 27th that he too would not be participating in Pride Night for the Sabres. Despite the opt-out, the Sabres continued on wearing the jerseys for warmups.
NHL Teams who canceled plans to wear Pride Night Jerseys after originally scheduling them
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers were the first team in the NHL to outright not wear Pride Night jerseys at all despite planning for them early in the season on January 27th. The jerseys were scheduled to be auctioned off after the game, which also never happened.
The Minnesota Wild became the second team to cancel the wearing of jerseys on Pride Night, making a last-minute decision to scrap the jerseys but still hold the event. Reporters speculate this could have been done to avoid blowback to one of the franchise's stars, Kirill Kaprizov.
The Chicago Blackhawks became the third team in the NHL to cancel wearing pride themed jerseys for warmups on March 23rd. The Blackhawks were reportedly not wearing the jerseys due to the recent law in Russia that restricts LGBTQIA+ rights and the worry that certain players on the team would not be able to return to the country at season’s end.